It’s considered the highest credential the teaching profession has to offer, and the Gilbert Unified School District has the distinction of having the most out of any district in the state — 59 National Board Certified teachers.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced the 2007 class of the newly certified on Tuesday, dubbed National Certification Day, and 11 Gilbert district teachers earned certification this year.
“It tells people and prospective teachers that we are a district that encourages our teachers to strive for professional certification,” said Nikki Blanchard, Gilbert’s assistant superintendent of human resources. “It’s a program that we feel directly relates to student achievement.”
Rose Smith, a sixth-grade teacher at Finley Farms Elementary School, received her National Board Certification in 2002. She was the first National Board coordinator for the district, and helped put together the recruitment efforts to encourage Gilbert teachers to participate. She also taught a 10-week precandidacy class to familiarize teachers with the certification process.
“Being a National Board teacher is always reflecting and refining your teacher practice to suit the needs of the students in your class,” said Smith, who has worked for the district for 21 years. “I’m very proud that I went through it and accomplished the certification. Still after six years I’m always thinking, ‘What can I do different? What can I do better?’ I learned that from the National Board.”
The process to get a National Board certification takes 200 to 400 hours and costs $2,500. Teachers build a portfolio of student work samples, assignments, classroom analysis and a videotape of themselves teaching. They also take six computer exams based on what they teach.
James Minichello, spokesman for The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, said National Board Certified teachers have proven they know their subject matter and can successfully teach it.
“Like board certified doctors and accountants, teachers who have achieved it have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review,” said Minichello by phone from the national headquarters in Arlington, Va.
Teachers who receive the certification in Gilbert receive monetary incentives. When teachers finish their portfolio and test, they get $1,500 from the district before they receive their results, thanking them for going through the process, Smith said. Once the results come out in November and teachers receive their certification, they get $3,000 a year for the life of the certificate, which is 10 years, with an additional $100 added each year, Smith said.
Comparing the number of National Board Certified teachers to other districts, the state’s next highest district is Paradise Valley Unified School District, with 43 certified teachers. Seven Higley Unified School District teachers received their certification this year, the first seven for the district. Queen Creek Unified School District has one National Board Certified teacher.